The most popular Afro-futuristic authors skilfully write on this edge, where they are as obsessed with the future as their colleagues, but with different attitudes to questions about who can play which roles in the future. For example, Jemisins A hundred thousand kingdoms (2010) is a story about empire and slavery that takes place in a supernatural realm of deities and monsters. Butler’s classic from 1979 relationship Famous is an African American writer who travels between modern Los Angeles and a plantation in Maryland during the Antebellum period.
In music, acts like Sun Ra and Parliament Funkadelic built their appearance and sounds on a link between black culture and futuristic iconography. For Afro-futuristic artists, technology is an essential part of the sound. Play the acidic version of Parliament̵
Afrofuturism is important beyond the arts, and if it can be described as a political identity or ideology (Nelson and other scholars leave it open), it offers a lens through which we can look at the present and the future.
We could have asked the 1985 Afrofuturist what they think about the war on drugs. We could ask them in 1995 about Sub-Saharan Africa’s experience of the HIV pandemic and in 2005 the war on terror.
Why do we care what the Afrofuturist has to say? And why should we suspect that their answers would differ from those of an average futurist? This is because the experience of blacks is defined by a historical struggle for existence, the right to live, to be seen as a person, to receive fundamental rights in order to achieve (political, social, economic) equality. For this reason, the Afrofuturist can see the parts of the present and future that are in the blind spots of the status quo.
Futurists ask What The hoverboards and flying cars of tomorrow are made of. Ask Afrofuturists WHO will she build? And does their commercial use fall out of their military or law enforcement benefits?
Futurists deal with questions about the nature of Android awareness and empathy. Afrofuturists ask how races could be connected to the Android consciousness, whether the Android world could be as divided as ours.
These are simple but not trivial questions. Your answers include the details necessary to build science fiction worlds that are really compelling (which is one of the only charges for good science fiction), or real worlds that science fiction makes us strive for.
We can ask analogous questions to modern society and speculate about what our world will look like after experiencing a triad of world-changing current events: the biggest pandemic in a century, a social movement that challenges the police and criminal justice institutions, and an upcoming presidential election that will almost certainly serve as a referendum on democracy in the United States (and the legitimacy of fascism driven by white nationalism worldwide).
We should ask Afrofuturism what it thinks about these events. While the specific answers might be enlightening, there are real insights in answering them as we are forced to rethink and supplement our predictions with missing levels.
The Covid-19 comet
Covid-19 is the curse that keeps on cursing, claiming more than half a million lives worldwide and nearly 140,000 lives in the United States. However, the dark curve of the curve lies not only in how the virus spreads and kills, but also in how the pandemic snakes along an insidious path and feeds on misinformation that is rich in credibility, charlatanism, pseudoscience, conspiracy and are political propaganda.
The resulting cosmic slop looks grotesque in July than in March. The world is so full of bad messages that alleged conspiracies go to war with them each other on our social media schedules; Carpet baggers storm in with ruthless devotion and attack the basic public trust in science and information; Epidemiologists discuss with Silicon Valley technologists or other scientists whether things are getting better or worse. The science of wearing a mask stirs up unhappy debates on the definition of “freedom”. In the middle of the current, fact makers and science defenders are fighting to climb out of the rubble and stay motivated and committed.